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Celebrate Earth


Since we have begun to celebrate Earth Day in April, the month has become associated with being green. I've even seen it being called Earth Month in many publications. The month is a big one for kids. Being green becomes the focus of many school lessons and activities, and kids' shows air special green themed episodes. Of course, this year we also have a new Disneynature movie to look forward to as well: Bears.

More Earth Day Fun for Kids...
Kids' Movies & TV Spotlight10

Taking Baby to the Movies?

Monday March 31, 2014

Have you ever taken a baby to a movie theater? I see people do this all the time. Every once in a while, said baby starts to wail in the middle of the film, and you know whether the parent promptly takes the baby out or not, the film has been disrupted at that point.

Now if the film is a children's film, I'm not going to get upset about it as long as the baby is taken out if he starts getting loud, particularly if the showing is early in the day. If a family wants to see a movie together and they can't find anyone to babysit, who am I to judge? Matinee showings of kids' films are often a little noisier anyway.

But my real question is about those babies who sweetly sleep the whole way through as the rest of the family enjoys the movie together. Yes, there are babies who do that, and it never ceases to amaze me. I avoid taking babies to the movies at all costs, because I just know how it would go down, and I get really stressed out about things like that. I don't want my kid disrupting anyone's movie experience.

Now you know why I'm writing this post, right? Yes, because a couple of weeks ago I broke my cardinal rule of avoiding taking the baby to the movies at all costs. I really needed to see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and I wanted to take the older kids, and darn it, I didn't want to leave my husband home, and there were no other babysitters to be found. (Okay I have to be honest here and say there were no trusted babysitters to be found, which for me with a baby that small means...my mother-in-law couldn't do it).

We went to the earliest showing. My husband sat on the end close to the exit ready to run out of the theater with the little guy if necessary. My plan? Baby was going to fall asleep eating and stay that way. What happened was baffling. My noisy, has to be bouncing all the time baby sat there and watched half the movie, then ate and fell asleep that way.

Am I likely to do it again? Nope. I think we got lucky, and besides, who knows what watching 3D movies with no glasses on could do to a baby's eyes, but I digress. I'm glad we got to see the movie together as a family, and I'm not going to begrudge anyone else that experience if they choose to chance it as well. But even though he was very good during that movie, I was still stressed at the thought that he might let out a sudden wail, as babies often do, and so that was likely the extent of his movie going until he's old enough sit quietly and appreciate the experience. This means I will have to be better at planning ahead for babysitting, because there are some excellent family movies coming up later in 2014 that we'll want to see together.

How about you? Do you take your baby to the movie? and if so, does it stress you out? -- for me it's almost as bad as taking the baby on an airplane...



Healthy Media Habits Teach Important Life Skills

Monday March 31, 2014

Limiting kids' exposure to media is about more than just making sure they don't watch too much TV or waste too much time playing video games. It's even about more than protecting kids from content that is disturbing, degrading or otherwise diminishing to the human soul. Just like other things in life that can be overdone or addictive, healthy media use requires self discipline. And with the unfathomable number of devices now available to all of us, keeping screen time in check is harder than ever.

In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is to teach them the hard skill of self-discipline. People with self discipline are not only able to avoid overdoing things or getting themselves into troublesome situations, but they are also more successful as they are able to make themselves work hard and manage time wisely.

Media is one tool that can help parents teach kids to discipline themselves and monitor their own behavior. Parents can teach these lessons by explaining to kids why keeping media use in check is so important, and then empowering kids by allowing them a say in setting the rules and guidelines your family follows when it comes to media time and what content is appropriate or not.

Help kids establish and stick to healthy TV habits. Also, when co-viewing with kids, find opportunities here and there to help kids process what they are watching and analyze how behavior or events apply or don't apply to the real world. Parents can even use commercials to effectively teach kids life skills that will help them in every aspect of their lives.

There are so many ways that we can use media for good, but as parents, we have to remember to be proactive. Kids are learning from all sorts of media every day whether we like it or not. The extent of their exposure and the messages they receive are up to us, but if we give kids a part in monitoring and regulating their own media behavior, we can empower them to be stronger, more productive individuals now and in the future.


Childhood Classics

Thursday March 27, 2014

For movie night the other night, we were trying to think of movies our kids have never seen. We racked our brains for childhood favorites the kids might enjoy, keeping in mind that movies we watched as kids sometimes aren't what we would let our kids watch today. For example, I loved Goonies; however, due to some of the content in that movie, I wouldn't let my younger kids watch it now. We've been surprised a couple of times when watching older movies and content we thought nothing of as kids shocks us a little when we watch with our own kids.

So, we thought of Never Ending Story, The Dark Crystal, Flight of the Navigator, and a couple of others. I know we saw tons of movies as kids, but only a few still stand out today, and many of those memorable flicks are common to both my husband and my lists.

We then tried to think of what movies from our kids' childhoods will stand out to them when they are older. We see so many movies, which ones will they tell their kids about?

Clearly several Disney and Pixar movies like Frozen, Tangled and Toy Story will continue to be favorites. What about non-animated films? There's the Harry Potter movies, of course, and other great films based on books. Many Super hero movies will likely maintain their super status. Beyond that, most of the movies my kids want to watch over and over are animated. Animated movies have come so far since we were kids.

What are some of your favorite childhood films, and what movies do you think your kids will be telling your grand kids about?

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Friday February 28, 2014

Green eggs and ham, anyone? This weekend (March 2) is Dr. Seuss' birthday. Celebrate by reading a few Seuss books and/or watching TV renditions of his fabulous tales.

Our favorite Seuss story is How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but since the holiday season has passed, we'll likely read a couple of his longer tales like Horton Hears a Who or The Lorax and some fun shorter ones as well. Many of these fun rhyming stories are available in cartoon version on DVD, and some have been turned into full length theatrical releases, Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax included.

READ MORE about Movies Based on Dr. Seuss Stories...

Also, on Monday and throughout next week, PBS KIDS is celebrating Seuss' birthday with new episodes of the educational show for preschoolers The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. This educational series stars Seuss' famous Cat in the Hat, who takes his friends Nick and Sally on scientific adventures where they learn about animals, habitats and other types of natural science. Check local PBS listings for exact times. Or, you can also find episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That on DVD and on demand.

While reading is the most obvious and educational way to celebrate Seuss' b-day, watching movie versions of his stories can be educational too. TV time coupled with reading and parent interaction can even help kids develop communication skills and early literacy skills. Extend the learning even further by having kids create their own wacky character and write a rhyming story like Dr. Seuss did.


(Photo PBS KIDS)

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